Tag Archives: biking

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

We’ve been under siege from blustery winds for the last several days. Fortunately, we didn’t fall under tornado like other unfortunate towns. I am thankful for that.

Saturday, I planned to take the Cub Scouts (and willing family members) for a 7 mile bike hike along the Wauponsee Glacial Trail where we would end at the Kankakee River to be picked up by non-riding family members. I once ran a half marathon on this trail. I was very excited about taking the scouts on the trail, but I fretted over the weather for 10 days. When 1 PM rolled around, the winds picked up and the gusts started to blow the boys around. The problem was that these blustery winds were coming from the exact direction we were headed into.

Scratch that plan. The scouts wouldn’t have made it a half mile against that wind let alone 7 miles. We shortened the trip to 5 miles, put the wind at our backs, and headed north on the trail instead. Those kids pedal led their little hearts out. What a great time but all were happy to see the finish line.


Ironically, a month ago, a scout leader planned to fly kites on our regular meeting night this week. Now, we were worried the winds would carry the boys off with the kites. All day the winds were 24 mph with gusts as high as 36 mph. The wind advisory was scheduled to end a half hour before the meeting.

More ironically, as soon as the advisory was over, the wind was so dead it could barely be considered a breeze. We had to run the whole length of the field to get the kites to fly at all.

“Hey, are you supposed to be running in that boot?” I was asked.
“No, but the doc didn’t say anything about flying kites,” I called back.

We sprinted up and down that field for an hour having a complete blast. Two hours earlier, I had to scream at the soccer team just to get them to jog. Now, I was looking at a field full of boys begging for me to untangle their lines so they could run some more. The kites soaring higher and, really, not high at all.


Need a little variety in your runs? Need to do speed intervals. Try flying kites on a zero breeze day. Put play into your run because it’s a super smiley way to run.


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Filed under cycling, injury, running

Getting The Kids Involved

Babies are wonderful but let’s not forget the benefits of a tween. They are so eager to experience the world and grow up but still want you around. Not to mention that these kids don’t know their way around town, yet.

After a lazy morning and Eggs Bendict, I figured it would be a great time to go run. I invited the boys to come along on their bikes and gave them permission to choose the route.

Mik took the lead turning here and there and ending up a bit turned around. (Not all of our streets are straight) I have to admit that it was fun for me to watch him take charge and make decisions. The run became sort of a spontaneous event. I didn’t know the course nor the distance. Usually, I like to know my routes. I have found that in races, I will run into a mental “can’t do it” wall if the course turns (or doesn’t turn) in a way I wasn’t expecting. The distance of the race doesn’t matter. This has happened as often in 5k-s as in half marathons. So, it came as a surprise to me that I enjoyed being clueless about my Sunday route. Or maybe it was a relief to let someone else make a decision for a change.

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Filed under Barefoot, running

A Sweet Deal

Normally, I would be hand cuffed to the treadmill or couch whist the darling hubs is out of town. This time, however, I have finally manipulated a sweet deal for myself.

Hey, kids! What to go out for breakfast? How about we ride the bikes there?


Momma, you didn’t say you were going to run there. Momma!? You’re barefoot!
She always runs barefoot.

K-man carried my supplies. Two miles to breakfast and two miles home allowed me to have two chocolate chip pancakes.

We had friends join us at the restaurant. I had no choice but to reveal my super hero barefoot nature when we were leaving. She’s an alderman and asked me to let her know which sidewalks in town are in need of repair. Maybe my love/hate relationship with sidewalks can become a love/love relationship!

Lounging at the beach now!

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Filed under Barefoot, cycling, running

Another Shoe

It’s hard for me to compare one shoe to another as I am in a different place and made adjustments as I moved along this path.  I am unable to determine if the difference is in the shoe or in me.  Perhaps that is why Dr. Craig Richard’s proposal to study running shoes makes sense after all.  

Neither here nor there, I am going to tell you about my new shoes.  For the most part, I like to go barefoot.  There are places like work, the store, Monster Truck Jam when I feel (or am required) that wearing shoes is necessary.  I find it most interesting how self-conscious we are about shoes or no shoes.   No matter how crazy, or different, or daring we are, even us barefooters, are programmed to feel self-conscious about going without shoes.   I have yet been reprogrammed.  Thus, I bought another pair of shoes. 

When I went barefoot, I kept my Adidas shoes for casual wear, turning the compost pile, or other emergencies.  This past winter I resigned to the fact that I had no tolerance for sub-freezing temps and slushy, icy roads when wearing my VFFs.  I sunk to wearing my Adidas for winter runs.  Bah.  I am fairly certain wearing those Adidas lead to the flare up of tendonitis that I have yet to resolve.   Even wearing the Adidas for casual wear began to make my feet hurt more and more.  As a result, I began my hunt for a minimalist shoe that I could wear for winter runs.  Now that it is summer, I need a shoe for casual wear. 

My latest purchase…. Merrell pace glove.

I do not intend to wear these shoes for the purpose in which they were designed, at least, not very often.  I purchased these shoes for casual wear in the summer.  See all the nice mesh upper?  I have not had a stinky foot since purchasing them! This is very important because I tend to take my shoes off all the time, like, in the car.  The 5 hour Memorial Day car ride was a bit unpleasant until I covered up my stinky feet. 

I also tried on the Merrell Pure Glove.  I was mad for the red ones. I have wide feet so I was very pleased with the fit of both shoes.  However, I have to note that I fit into a 9 for the Pace but an 8.5 for the Pure based on width alone.  It is not often that I have to go down a size due to width.  Although, I went to the store for the Pure, I chose the Pace just because it seemed to feel better. 

I was going to wait until I actually took them for a run before writing about them but the best you are going to get is a half hour of playing tag at the park with the Cub Scouts.  I did a lot of short sprints and twists and turns.  The shoes did well.  They have a little bit of tread in them as you can see below.  You can also see the dirt on the front of one shoe.   

I’m already tired of writing this review as you are reading it.  I’ll cut to the chase.

Things I like: 

  1. The sole follows the curve of your foot.  I feel like it hugs the ball of my foot. 
  2. The width is fantastic
  3. They seem easier to walk in than VFFs.  Not sure if this is a real benefit or if I have just learned how to adapt a barefoot stride to shoes.  I do remember feeling awkward trying to walk in VFFs last summer.  I have no problem waking barefoot but I seem to have a brain-shoe connection with my stride.  This seems reduced when wearing my Paces. 
  4. Love the look.  They just look good plus they draw less attention to my minimalist style. 
  5. The back hugs up around your heel.  It is a fabric covered piece of elastic.  Because I am going casual in these shoes, I leave them tied.  The elastic heel allows me to just slip them on.  I had a bit of irritation from rubbing on the heel but I think that would be reduced if I was tieing them as I’m supposed to be. 
  6. When riding my bike, the grated edges of the pedals are less noticeable in the Paces than in the VFFs.  I won’t wear the VFFs when riding my bike.  The Paces are perfect.
  7. The sole is completely flexible unlike a lot of other shoes I have looked at. 

Thinks I don’t like:

  1. They might be considered barefoot, but they are a shoe. period.   They are not the same as going barefoot.    
  2. I agree that it seems a bit silly to spend so much money on a shoe that is supposed to feel like it’s not a shoe but I’ve tried going with cheap shoes.  I wore a pair of Payless ballet type tennis shoe last summer.   I don’t know why but if you are going to wear a shoe, maximus or minimalist, you do get what you pay for. 

In all, the Merrell Pace Glove is almost exactly what I was looking for in a casual minimalist shoe.   I’ll keep my Miminus Lifers for cooler weather when my feet won’t stink so much.  I’ll keep my VFFs for running on extreme surfaces.  I’ll try to go barefoot as much as possible and stop spending so much money on shoes!

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Filed under Barefoot, cycling, Vibram Five Fingers

Why I Run and Ride

When I first got the notion to start running 11 years ago, immediately I started competing with myself.  Let’s be honest, at that point, I was the only competition that I could keep up with.  I wanted to overtake the previous distance.  I didn’t know about the couch to 5K program if it even existed back then, but it is very nearly the way I began running.  I ran from telephone pole to telephone pole.  Soon, I conquered one mile straight out then walked back home a mile.  I aspired to go farther and farther.   

Fast forward a  few years and two kids, I entered my first 5K race.  Entering the race was only a symptom of my amply developed passion.  At home, I was running four miles nearly every day, but not for training, just to run.  I knew I could run a 5K without grief.  I finished 3rd in my age group but my running remains more about me than it is about racing.  These days, I run 1-3 races a year.   I run about 600 miles a year.  (Completing nor more than 20 miles total in shoes in the last 1.5 years)

That’s right, my running is more about me than racing.  When I look deep inside and analyze why I run, I see a woman who revels in using her own power to go somewhere.  I take pride in using my two feet (legs, lungs, etc) and nothing else to travel distances people consider “out of their way” in a car.    I enjoy the sense of success as landmark after landmark approaches, is a breast, then is out of view.   It seems easier to appreciate mother earth when I spend so much time massaging her derma.  

Although, another day passed without a run (except the half hour playing tag with the Cub Scouts), I’m finding gratification in another activity, biking.  My corner of the earth may be a menial place to ride.  Our trails of any length are converted old railroad tracks.  There aren’t any hills or mountains.  The corn stalks outnumber the trees by 5 to 1.  Still, I find supplanting the bike for the car as I make my way through town delivers satisfaction akin to running.  I am the central source of power that moves this machine forward.  I am the reason that I get from point A to point B.  I reduce the damage caused from eating M&Ms. .. ahem, I mean, I reduce the damage I cause to the earth. 

I may not have a lot of gadgets like a Garmin.  I may have a broken down 21 speed bike.  I may wear cotton biking shorts from Walmart for all my sweat inducing activities.  I may go barefoot or in minimalist shoes.  Most importantly, I am my own energy source.

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Filed under Barefoot, cycling, running

Live Smiley

Although I haven’t run for almost a week, I have taken advantage of some everyday occurences to make the most out of healthy living.

1. Having just completed a Biggest Loser Team challenge at work, I took the weekend “off” and only put on a half to one pound.  Last night, I focused on not wanting to slide backward and got back into detoxing myself.  Three hours, later as I foamed at the mouth in front of the candy jar, I knew that I did not want sugar to take control over my life.  I’m not saying it’s going easy, just that the detoxing is still going and I am glad for it.

2.  My son’s and my soccer team tied the only other undefeated team on Saturday in our last spring soccer game.  Little dude played hard and had fun.  I signed up to coach again in the fall so, I guess I had fun too.  Afterward, we planned to go the ice cream shop to commemorate the season.   The shop didn’t open for another hour so we went home first.  Even with the threat of rain, the boys and I rode our bikes to the ice cream shop.

3. On Sunday, the boys and I pedaled into town again.  We went to a flag raising ceremony with some other cub scouts then headed to the movie theater before pedalling home again.  I love teaching the boys that the can get around without the use of the car.   They get a sense of accomplishment when they hear others say, “You rode all the way here?” They were also very excited about my new bike lock because we can go to a lot more places on the bikes now.   To me, it seems rather silly to get into a car for every little stinking thing when we live only a mile from town.  Riding the bike turns it into and adventure. 

4. No Sunday drives for this chick.  The hubs took me out for a walk through the neighborhood.  We walked at a leisurely pace.  I was barefoot, of course, but that wasn’t why we went slowly.  It was just nice to slow life down a bit and take in the neighborhood.  After not having run for nearly a week, I welcomed a chance to barefoot mosey.     

No, I didn’t run barefoot.  No, I didn’t run smiley.  Yes, I did my best to Live Smiley.

Coming soon: A review on my new Merrell Pace Gloves.

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Filed under Barefoot, Weight loss

Less Water


The flooded low lands of Forsythe.

That was my first barefooted trail run. Recently, I’ve heard several times over that barefoot runners prefer trails and rarely run on pavement. I’m not one of those runners. This trail really isn’t in the kind of condition a barefooted would want to run on, at least, not in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I will do it again, just for variety.

The far part of the trail is low and flooded. I ran through the mud but I drew the line at standing water.

I didn’t get very many pictures of the trail because 10 mosquitoes sucked the blood out of my left leg before I could get the camera set up.

A couple of sticks turned under me. Fortunately, my ankles function well enough that I didn’t end up with a sprain. (Thanks , barefooting)

One thorn got me right in the arch. My first barefooted “injury” of the year. I just pulled it out and headed up to the next mud bath. Now, I can’t even tell you which foot it was.

It was National Run day, but I couldn’t leave it just at that. I rode my bike to and from the trail. Today, I biked smiley and ran smiley (sort of).

The grassy trail that leads down to mud pits.



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Filed under Barefoot, cycling, running